The regular season is over. Done and dusted. While it's impressive that Raiders United ran the table, their undefeated record means next to nothing on Wednesday night. Nor does the loss Stallions suffered at their hands in Week 3. Ultimately, 60 minutes of soccer will decide which team walks away from 2019 with their heads held high.

It's been almost two months since Hurst handed Euless their only loss on the season; a match which got out of hand quickly after a couple of defensive miscues. The Horsemen are a different team now. Their defense has stabilized, surrendering only two goals in that span. They've grown in their identity as a blue-collar team that battles for every ball.

But we'd be remiss to say that Raiders United, winners of the Top-of-Table Award in 2019, aren't favored to claim the title. This is one of the most dominant clubs we've seen in recent years. Individually, they're the most talented team in the league. Tactically, they're the most complete. If they play their game, Stallions won't stand a chance. But soccer is a game of imperfections, and there's no telling what will happen when the ball hits the pitch on April 3.

Here's how the matchup breaks down…

Raiders United

The Edge

Stallions FC

It’s hard to know just how good Raiders are at the top of the lineup. Their team style has yielded the most balanced stat sheet in the league; almost everyone can score or assist. But do they have a true game-breaker? The Stallions game plan is simple: move the ball quickly and efficiently, spray it to the wings, and let your forwards do their work. There’s not a lot of flashy talent up top here, but there is consistency.
The Midfield has been a calling card for Hurst since day one of Liga HEB, and that pattern isn’t changing anytime soon. They can possess their opponents to death or pull them apart with pinpoint passing. The Horsemen focus more on containing games than controlling them. Their midfield battles hard and makes a mess of opponents, but lacks that final ingredient to truly shape the course of a big match like this one.
Back Line
There’s a reason Raiders have a +21 Goal Differential, and it’s not just their prolific attack. The Reds defense is perhaps the most underrated unit in the league, capable of smothering opponents or playing a cool, possession-oriented approach that builds offense from the back. To be fair, Euless isn’t bad defensively. They hold most opponents to a few good chances per game, but they really struggle with spacing and response when their offense loses the ball. If either team is going to give up a decisive goal on the counter, it’s Stallions.
Raiders are that rare club that has a distinct identity but doesn’t mind shifting when the game calls for it. Watch for them to move the ball around and exploit space on the field until they’ve taken the lead, then settle in and out-possess Euless. They’re likely to bag another goal or two on the counter if their initial pressure gives them an advantage. Euless lost a lot of key pieces in the offseason when their veterans declared for the Trinity High School team (and made it). That’s great news for the league as a whole, but a tough loss for the Horsemen, who are even more reliant on the counter-attack this season. If they can absorb pressure in the early going, however, they’ve got the right approach to contain Raiders.
Teams from Hurst have been a staple of the league since its inception in 2010, and have never failed to qualify for the Champions Cup Match since it was installed in 2016. They have a strong pedigree and a thirst for revenge after losing the Cup for the first time last year. But confidence can become entitlement pretty quickly on the pitch. Once again, Stallions come into the Big Game with very little to lose. That frees them up to come out swinging, and landing the first punch could do wonders for the perennial underdogs. Scoring first won’t guarantee them a win, but they need to do something to unsettle Raiders in the first half. This team is made to grind out close games. They can’t afford to fall behind.

Join us on April 3 at 6:00 PM for the 2019 Champions Cup Match! Gates at Pennington Field open at 5:30 PM and everyone in attendance is invited to stick around for a postgame cookout!


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